In “A Marijuana Brand with Loads of Street Cred” published by The New York Times this week, Alex Williams tells the tale of Mario Guzman AKA Mr. Sherbinski, a cannabis breeder who rose from San Francisco’s underground pot community to head, after legalization, one of the fastest-growing brands in an exploding industry.
His story, to be sure, is compelling.
Starting with a 30 square-foot garden in his Sunset District garage, Guzman has created world-class genetics including the strains Gelato and Sunset Sherbert, and now manages cultivation operations from Mendocino to Santa Barbara that encompass more than 1.2 million square feet. His strains have received mentions in more than 200 hip-hop tracks and led to collaborations with Nike and Barneys of New York’s flagship store in Beverly Hills.
Williams effectively sets out to demonstrate the esteem and influence Sherbinskis has on a nascent industry and, more broadly, our society. But his piece, in itself, also signifies a cultural shift in cannabis journalism and is indicative of the new street cred enjoyed by marijuana itself.
For decades, readers were forced to look to genre publications such as High Times to find writing that portrayed marijuana and pot culture in a positive light. Mainstream publications focused their efforts on cannabis prohibition and interdiction, serving as sensationalist cheerleaders for the War on Drugs. In contrast, Williams’ NYT piece is a testimony to Gomez’s entrepreneurial prowess and the ubiquity and legitimacy of cannabis today, going so far as to republish strain reviews for Gelato and Sunset Sherbert from Sherbinskis promotional literature.
That’s right, cannabis strain reviews. In The New York Times.
And The Gray Lady isn’t alone. Other newspapers of record (particularly in pot-legal states) such as The Denver Post and The Boston Globe and national publications like Forbes are also now providing thoughtful cannabis coverage that doesn’t concentrate on crime. Even Bon Appetit has published dozens of weed-related articles, exploring not only obvious topics such as edibles, but issues such as the stigma surrounding cannabis and the ethics involved in the new industry, as well.
Even the fact that journalists are writing about “cannabis” is a milestone for the movement. For years now, activists have been pushing for weed to be referred to as cannabis, rather than more popular terms with negative or even racist connotations (although as a writer focusing on the subject, I confess I appreciate all the synonyms).
It’s a battle still being fought in some markets, but the trend is clear. We’re at a pivotal time in the coverage of cannabis, as it moves from being a subject leveraged to sell papers and drive web traffic, to the documentation of marijuana’s newfound acceptance emerging as the zeitgeist of our time.